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Statement by John J. Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, on the Death of Pope John Paul II
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Statement by John J. Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, on the Death of Pope John Paul II
April 03, 2005


Pope John Paul II’s service to the Lord and to humanity brought hope, energy and boundless love to all the world—Christians, Jews, Moslems and people of all faiths, especially the poor and those in need of solidarity. America’s working families mourn his loss and give thanks for the blessings of his leadership.


We have lost an extraordinary leader and supporter, and we miss him greatly.


Pope John Paul II bridged two centuries, spanned the terms of six U.S. Presidents and crossed the borders of almost every country on our planet.  More than any other global leader of his time, he championed the working class and the struggle of workers for justice and dignity. His three social encyclicals were milestones in the defense of workers against abuse of power by state control or employer exploitation.  He insisted that globalization must serve the common good.  His writings, actions and preachings worldwide elevated the human person as the center and purpose of work, and human work as “the essential key to the whole social question.”  The power of his teaching fashioned messages that gave hope to workers from Gdansk to Sao Paulo and challenged the world’s most powerful elites.


In affirming the social teaching tradition of the Church dating to Pope Leo XIII’s groundbreaking encyclical, “Rerum Novarum”, Pope John Paul II espoused the notion of worker solidarity as a central dimension of the human condition and a necessary ingredient of a just society.  Even more, he advanced the thinking on the spirituality of work—branding it a “sharing in the activity of the Creator”—in a way that transcended even the ethical teachings and placed it at the core of the Church’s wider teaching on the relation of God to all of us as individuals. 


The Holy Father will be remembered for his tireless travel on behalf of peace and his outreach to the young.  His legacy will be one of courage and compassion.  His monument will be the millions of people of all faiths he inspired not just to endure, but to aspire and build and change.


More than anything, we remember and will rededicate ourselves in his memory to the optimism of what the bountiful love of the Creator can accomplish.


His suffering is ended; ours is made tolerable by his teachings and his example.


Contact Sarah Massey 202-637-5018

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